November is on the horizon, and this year I’ve decided to try NaNoWriMo again! Hooray!
Although to be honest I’m kind of cheating… Rather than starting a brand new novel for NaNoWriMo I’m planning to use it to try and write another 50,000 words of my currently stalled WIP. As I’ve already written about 25,000 words, I think this would take me almost to the end of the first draft (although I guess I don’t know quite how long it’s going to be yet?), and as a serial quitter it would be kind of a big deal for me to finish a first draft of a novel manuscript!
Last time I took part in NaNoWriMo (in 2014) I made it to 42,000 words before I managed to write myself into a corner I just couldn’t seem to get out of thanks to my pantser ways, so this time I’m doing some pretty extensive prep to try and avoid the same thing happening. As I’ve been working on this novel for a while, I already have a general outline of the entire plot, but I’ve been working on a detailed chapter-by-chapter outline for NaNoWriMo which I’m hoping will stop me getting stuck!
However, I already have the vague feeling I won’t make it to the full 50,000 words, largely due to the fact that I already know I’ll have a lot going on in November. My sister’s baby is due in the middle of the month, so I’ll of course be very busy being an adoring Aunt, plus I may even be moving house (again!), which will obviously keep me pretty occupied. Any progress with my novel is good progress though, and I feel like taking part in NaNoWriMo will give me the motivation to really push forward with it, whether I reach the full 50,000 words or not.
‘So what’s your novel about?’, I hear you ask (or maybe you didn’t, but I’m going to tell you anyway!)! Well, it’s a fantasy novel (it started out as adult fantasy, but seems to have developed more of a YA-esque feel, aside from the gore) about the three daughters of the mad and cruel High Queen Diedra. The Queen’s eldest daughter Devi has been promised in marriage to the son of the Lord of Hernias, who the Queen hopes to gain as her ally. To Devi’s surprise, she finds herself growing to like the man her mother is forcing her to marry and is looking forward to finally escaping her dreary childhood home and her mother’s persistent rages. However, when her betrothed (Lord Hansel) is kidnapped by their enemies in retribution for a terrible act committed by the Queen, she and her youngest sister Dresden (still not sure about that name!) set out to rescue him, with the help of the sinister Huntsman and Hansel’s best friend Sparrow. Meanwhile the middle sister, Daphne, stays behind to try and control their mother’s spiralling madness, and keep the family’s enemies at bay.
So as you can see, there’s a pretty complex plot going on, and I haven’t even mentioned the super creepy forest, the sisters’ ancestral magic, and just how awesome the sinister Huntsman (known only as Lynch) is! My favourite thing about writing this so far has been the three sisters’ relationships though, as I really love them all so much as characters (even though I wrote them!).
Anyway, I thought I’d include a few extracts from the novel so far just so you can get a flavour of what I’m writing (if you’re interested!). As I always do when I share any of my fiction I feel super nervous, but I figure it might be helpful to get a bit of feedback before I work on it some more (and bear in mind this is just a first draft!). I chose these particular extracts because they give a good sample of just how crazy and creepy the Queen is, the relationship between the three sisters and then there’s a nice little action scene as well!
I’d love to know what you’ll be working on for NaNoWriMo! Best of luck to all NaNoWriMo 2016 participants!
From Chapter 2: At a banquet
He was the Huntsman: the Queen’s official bounty hunter and assassin, and the object he had slammed on the dinner table appeared to be a head. A severed head.
Devi watched in horror as the Queen withdrew it from the sack, seemingly unconcerned by the fact blood was dribbling from it down her pale wrists, and onto her priceless robes. She lifted the shrunken, decaying thing until it was level with her face, staring into the rotting eye sockets as if looking into a lover’s eyes. She smiled a terrible smile, and Devi almost gagged at the putrid smell of it.
Across the table Daphne’s face was wrinkled with disgust, and Lord Hansel had gone deathly pale.
“Who is he?” Dresden asked in regards to the head, her voice shaking slightly.
“He’s our enemy.” The Queen murmured softly, lost in her own dark thoughts. “And he’s dead.”
She turned her head to look at Dresden, turning the severed head with it. Dresden looked a little like she might puke, but managed to splutter out,
“Yeah, I can kind of see that. The rotting eye sockets and maggots were kind of a give away.”
From Chapter 6: The sisters argue about Devi’s plan to rescue Lord Hansel
“You two are seriously going to swan off after some lordling we barely know?” Daphne raged at them.
“She’s determined to go Daph, and you know I can’t let her wander off on her own. She’ll just end up daydreaming and walking off a cliff or something.” Dresden said casually, passing her dagger from hand to hand.
“Yeah, that’s right. You two did always come as a pair, didn’t you?” Daphne sneered in response, but there was a genuine look of hurt upon her face as she spoke, and it pulled a little at Devi’s heart strings. She wondered if this was natural or if Daphne’s powers were doing the pulling.
“Aww, come on Daph, you know it’s not like that. You’re more than welcome to join the extremely dangerous forest rescue party if you like, you know.” Dresden said.
“Number One: Being eaten by wild animals or slaughtered by angry Bypines isn’t on my list of life ambitions. Number Two: I don’t see why it’s our job to bring back bloody Lord Handsome. And Number Three: You know full well we can’t all go traipsing off into the ether. Someone has to stay here…stay here with mother.” She struck her points off violently on her fingers as she continued to glare at her sisters.
Devi shrank beneath that fierce gaze, but Dresden simply smirked and imitated her.
“Number One: I’m glad this ‘Lord Handsome’ thing is catching on, and Number Two: I totally agree, Mother isn’t going to be pleased. But you know you’re her favourite. I doubt she’ll actually give a shit if me and Dev go missing.”
From Chapter 11: The Hansel rescue party runs amok of a death-worshipping tribe
The tribesman she now fought grinned at her with yellowing teeth, his lined face visible beneath his immense black and white headdress. He began circling her, and she found herself with no choice but to follow his lead, trying to keep her back to the fire so that she couldn’t be attacked unsuspecting from behind. He advanced slightly, pale skin glowing orange in the dancing firelight, and she took a step back, almost tripping on the corpse of the second guard as she did so. He grinned wider, knife raised as he prepared to attack, when suddenly there was an almighty sword swipe, and his headdress adorned head was rolling to the floor, his headless corpse dropping moments later.
The immense figure of Lynch stood behind him.
“Don’t just stand there. Get to the trees, girl!” he growled, turning immediately to behead two more tribesmen with one expert swing of his huge sword. Nearby Dresden was flying through the air, twin swords whirling, too fast for the cumbersomely dressed tribesmen to catch. She dispatched one after another after another, until she was scrambling over bodies and slipping in blood. Meanwhile Lynch was taking them out like chopping down trees, with swing after swing of his sword. They didn’t seem to know how to dodge the great reach of the man’s swing, and fell in gruesome heaps where they stood, severed body parts flying feet from their bodies.
(Yep, it’s pretty gruesome in places!)
So are you taking part in NaNoWriMo this year? What will you be writing about, and how are you preparing?